Copper Country supports CTE: Millage passes in every district

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette file The Copper Country Intermediate School District’s CTE millage proposal passed by a 2-to-1 margin Tuesday, with every school district in the ISD passing the referendum.

HOUGHTON — Voters throughout the Copper Country Intermediate School District approved a proposal to levy 1 mill for 10 years for career and technical education (CTE) programs, which will allow the CCISD to maintain current classes and expand the program’s course offerings.

The proposal passed by a 2-to-1 margin.

The votes were 2,706 in favor, while 1,255 opposing, which amounts to roughly 68 percent to 32 percent.

George Stockero, CCISD superintendent, said last night was a long one, and he was thrilled at the support across the region for the program.

“I am very thankful and appreciative to our community,” Stockero said. “This passed in every school district; in every individual school district.”

Stockero said that while he is happy for the referendum’s passage, he is happy for the students.

“They’re going to have opportunities for the next 10 years that they otherwise wouldn’t have had,” he said. “We are appreciative to the community and excited for the kids.”

The CTE program had been running a deficit each year it was operated, Stockero said, which led him to conduct a two-year study that included surveying over 80 local businesses throughout Houghton, Baraga, and Keweenaw counties. The survey of businesses revealed that 62 percent indicated a need for skilled labor, and 54 percent stated the current CTE classes are vital to their organizations, while 46 percent stated more CTE classes are needed. The millage will allow for more classes to be offered to CCISD students and will also eliminate the ISD’s need to bill school districts tuition costs for the students who wish to participate in the program.

“Right off the bat,” Stockero said, “all the classes we have been offering are now free of charge to the school districts. That means the money they had been paying for their students to take those classes can now be re-invested in their individual districts.”

Jim Vivian, Keweenaw County Board member, said recently that one of the areas he would love to see CTE expand into is culinary. Vivian said there has long been a shortage of experienced and trained cooks and chefs in a region that relies heavily on tourism. Stockero had said earlier this month that the local Meals on Wheels had offered their kitchen facilities as a classroom for culinary arts, which is one of the areas into which CTE will now look to enter.